April 23, 2020 Subject:
Good production; some mediocre new mysteries
Stanley does a good Rathbonian Sherlock, and although Alfred Shirley's rather arch Watson is a switch from Nigel Bruce's lovable bumbler, and perhaps a tad overdone at times, he gets the job done well enough.
In a switch from earlier seasons, Sherlock and Watson snap at each other quite a bit: Sherlock is always shushing Watson with a sharp "Quiet, Watson," and Watson will get fed up with Sherlock's superior needling and tell him to "go to blazes."
That brand of repartee, which I find rather amusing, features mostly in episodes in which the announcer, at the end, credits the writing to American author and actress Edith Meiser. According to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Meiser , Meiser wrote Sherlock for radio in the '30s and early '40s--which probably means this season is mainly re-staging old scripts.
The language is well written, and the adaptations of Conan Doyle stories come off smartly. Less effective are the actual new stories: in most cases, they're just poor mysteries, with solutions frequently becoming obvious even to a dunderpate like me midway through; or dealing with trifles, even descending into social comedies; or even in a few cases--something that turned me off to Agatha Christie novels--relying on a clue that was not described to the reader until afterward.
The production is probably the most pleasant since the Rathbone era began: the music is mellow rather than jarring, the sound effects effective, and the ads not *too* annoying--except for the ones in which Watson jarringly joins in.
November 14, 2017 Subject:
Even though so far i've only listened to 1 episode. I get what the series is going to be like. The writing in the episodes in quite good. And the cast is overall not bad. But the acting for Holmes and Watson. Well...It's not the best. When you compare it to other great actors who have play Sherlock Holmes such Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ronald Howard, Basil Rathbone and the great Jeremy Brett. This Sherlock Holmes is one of the worst. But John Stanley does try to do his best. Which i like. So when you think of it like that. He's not a bad Sherlock Holmes. Not the best but not the worst. Plus Watson in this series is a little on the dumb side. But i don't mind this series. There's most likely some real gems in the series.
December 23, 2011 Subject:
John Stanley as Holmes
I have read a number of reviews regarding the Sherlock Holmes show featuring John Stanley and Alfred Shirley. Now I have listened to several of their episodes and I have mixed feelings with some of them. The ones that I thought were interesting were-The Laughing Lemur of Hightower Heath, Death is a Golden Arrow, the Serpent God, Prof. Moriarty and the Diamond Jubilee, New Year's Eve off the Scilly Isles, and the Bleeding Chandelier among others. But there were some that were kind of silly like the Cradle that Rocked Itself, the Christmas Bride, the Sinister Crate of Cabbages, Lady Waverly's Imitation Pearls, the Sudden Senility and the Everblooming Roses among them. Now while I think Stanley is a good radio Holmes he can be rude and sarcastic during different episodes and especially towards Watson as though they were trying to indicate that Shirley's Watson was like Nigel Bruce. Also while this 1947-1948 season on the MBS is all right I still like Rathbone and Bruce because of their work on radio and the movies. Also I never thought of Basil Rathbone as a snob when he was growing tired of being typecast as the great detective. After all he did not want to be always linked as the character all his life. John Stanley is no Basil Rathbone but to each his own and that's ok. But when you listen to the second season where Shirley is no longer playing Watson it kind of messes up the program. Not to mention that some of the shows during the 2nd season are not all that good. Like the Fabulous Windmill, the Uddington Witch, Island of the Dead, the Bloomsbury Ballad, the Logic of Murder, and the Mad Miners of Cardiff just to name a few. But while I am not saying Stanley is bad as Holmes I am just a Rathbone fan and always will be.
December 21, 2011 Subject:
Classic Radio During It's Golden Age
I have to laugh at the less than positive reviews from obvious youngsters who do not understand the programs from the context of radio history. John Stanley was one of the more colorful and popular voice/radio stars of his days. And unlike Basil Rathbone who was a snob who thought himself too good for radio and left the Sherlock Holmes genre to be replaced by Stanley - I man who actually enjoyed playing Holmes.
These programs were adaption created by people who understood the war-wary minds of the audience in the US - some were returning veterans of WW2 and most just ordinary forks looking forward to something better after years of bloody global war. While purists will chafe at how Watson was played by Nigel Bruce, the fact is Conan Doyle's Watson while loyal and fit the British image of a righthand man, was not very lovable. And much of the Sherlock Holmes stories were rather dark and sinister - something that would not have been appetitizing to a war weary audience. These radio adaptions were quiet creative for it's days just as programs for HDTV are today.
The way to enjoy this is to first understand something about the times when these programs were first aired. Before sex and foul language were common accepted place in entertainment. Where the story's plot actually matter more than actors' off the stage reputation. Yes, stories actually had a plot. Which is more than I can say for what passes for entertainment today.
May 12, 2010 Subject:
Scripts good/acting bad
The scripts were written by Edith Meiser who was really responsible for bringing Holmes and Watson to American radio in the 1930's. She died in 1993 at the age of 95. A very enthusiastic fan of Doyle's creation.
Unfortunately, as another has suggested, the acting is awful. It gets a bit tiresome listening to the hissy-fits of Holmes and Watson (as presented by the two principal actors).
I'm sure Edith, in the control room, must have been grinding her teeth as she listened to these hammy outbursts.
I give it three-stars only because someone went through the effort of getting these programs on the net. For that, thank you.
January 22, 2009 Subject:
Pretty well done
It must be hard to write a precisely timed A. C. Doyle knock-off every week. These are fairly well done originals, and a few Doyle derivations. Because of the compact nature of the scripts and the radio format, these productions move quickly, if somewhat superficially. As a result, the subtlety of the original characters is lost, and must be supplanted by what we have already read.
Still, despite the annoying Clipper Craft ads, the cheesy organ music, and some strange accents, the characters and stories are close enough to the originals as to be quite enjoyable in their familiarity.
December 25, 2008 Subject:
Still worth it for the stories and the rest of the cast
The stories are quite good, and the supporting cast seems especially good. But as with the second set of Stanley-Shirley, the constant bickering between Holmes and Watson is painful to hear.
Watson is played as thick as a brick. I wonder how many people involved in the production read the stories, or their only concept of Watson was the Nigel Bruce movies. Worse, this Watson second-guesses everything Holmes says and does. Which leaves us with the question: Why would Holmes, who is supremely intelligent and impatient with people, hook up with an idiot?
A natural erosion from Tom Conway's unpleasant acerbic version, Holmes is played as abrupt, conceited, sarcastic, and often speaks to Watson like he was a dog.